GANNAWARRA Shire Council will provide $2500 in annual funding for the running of the Kerang Show but will not reinstate a public holiday for the historic annual event.
Nine questions were asked at council's latest monthly meeting about the council's support for the show by representatives of the Kerang and District Agricultural Society, which is struggling to find volunteers to run the event.
In their questions, president John Poole, secretary Lorraine Morris and debutante ball organiser Georgia McDonald all drew attention to the show's 135-year history and importance to the town and to local businesses.
Patchell ward councillor, Mark Arians, who moved the motion to reinstate the show day public holiday, said that the show was a key event for the shire, which more than 1200 community members had voted in favour of last year by paying to attend, and that support for it fell squarely within the aims of the council's current strategic plan.
Cr Arians suggested that council staff could be offered paid leave for volunteering with the Kerang or Cohuna show committees.
"Failing this, we need to recognise that that show requires volunteers to ensure its ongoing success. The committee of the agricultural society believe the best way to attract volunteers is to make Kerang Show day a public holiday," he said.
The motion to reinstate the show day public holiday, which was seconded by Cr Sonia Wright, was defeated.
Cr Charlie Gillingham then successfully moved that the council make an annual contribution of $2500, or of resources to that value, to the show committee.
In 2013 Kerang Show day, in early October, became the designated public holiday in the town and surrounding area following an amendment to the Victorian Public Holidays Act which meant regional councils around the State could choose to nominate a full-day public holiday or two half-day public holidays in different parts of their municipalities so that residents could attend local agricultural shows and race days.
But in 2015 a petition to the council by members of the Kerang business community led to a change to the arrangement, after it prompted more consultation on the issue, and an online survey, completed by 320 people, indicated more respondents would prefer the entire shire have the Melbourne Cup holiday, on the first Tuesday in November.
In 2017 the council reverted to having Melbourne Cup as the public holiday for the whole shire.
Mr Poole said that agricultural society members were glad about the council's decision on annual funding, although they would have liked to see a sum of around $5000 provided.